LGBT advocacy group cancels ASEAN event in Jakarta amid pushback

Photo illustration
Photo illustration

A meeting of Southeast Asian LGBT communities that was supposed to take place in Jakarta from July 17 to 21 has reportedly been canceled by the organizers amid pushback from the public and religious organizations. 

The meeting, called the ASEAN Queer Advocacy Week, was organized by ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, a regional network of LGBT rights groups reportedly based in the Philippines.

“The organizers of ASEAN Queer Advocacy Week have decided to relocate the meeting outside Indonesia after receiving a series of threats from numerous groups,” ASEAN SOGIE Caucus said in a statement published yesterday.

The meeting was intended to bring together activists from across Southeast Asia to discuss advocacy and navigating challenges in the region. The organizers said that they wanted to create a safe space for civil society and human rights defenders to learn about ASEAN institutions, to address issues that are important to them, and to collectively exercise their right to freely express their views on how ASEAN advances or fails to advance the rights of their communities.

The organizers also said that they hoped to raise awareness and visibility of the human rights violations and discrimination faced by LGBT people in Southeast Asia, as well as to promote solidarity and cooperation among them. They said that they envisioned an inclusive ASEAN region that respects and protects the rights of all people regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC).

The ASEAN Queer Advocacy Week was reportedly first promoted via ASEAN SOGIE Caucus’ Instagram, and came to the public’s attention after several local media outlets reported about the event.

The news prompted condemnation from, among others, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), who argued that LGBT advocacy goes against the constitutional right to belief in God.

The Jakarta Metro Police said no party had filed for a permit to hold such an event in the capital.

ASEAN SOGIE Caucus’ Instagram has been set to private amid reported abuse by Indonesian netizens.

While homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, LGBTQ+ communities often face discrimination in the country, fueled by pressure and intolerance from religious conservatives and authorities in Indonesia.

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